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Brunton Park
Brunton Park

Carlisle Preview

By: Richard Hubbert
Date: 07/04/2006

THE biggest game in League Two on Saturday takes place at Brunton Park where top of the table Carlisle United host the second placed Mariners in a match Cumbrians boss Paul Simpson has dubbed the "title decider".

Home > 2005-2006 Season > Previews > Carlisle (a)

The Opposition

Town face a Carlisle oufit that undoubtedly represent the in-form side of the division. Under the stewardship of ex Wolves winger Paul Simpson (left), Carlisle are top of the table and unbeaten in League Two since the end of January when they lost to Macclesfield. On Sunday they narrowly lost 2-1 to Swansea City in the Football League Trophy Final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Yet they have recorded six straight victories in the league, which has seen them go three points clear of the Mariners at the summit of League Two. It is their form since the end of October that has established them as serious promotion contenders. They lost four consecutive games between the end of September and early October, which left them in 12th place in the table. A shake up to the side that included dropping ex-Town goalkeeper Anthony Williams seemed to spring the Cumbrians into action and they now look odds-on to secure promotion.

Their Squad
Former Manchester City trainee Kieren Westwood has firmly established himself as the Cumbrians' number one goalkeeper this season. The 21-year-old was given his chance in October and has kept hold of his place ever since. In defence, Carlisle can rely upon the solid partnership of the experienced Kevin Gray and Danny Livesey. Gray made over 200 appearances for Huddersfield in a eight year spell before he moved to Carlisle via Tranmere Rovers in 2003. Spanish full back Zigor Aranalde scored twice against Town in the meeting in January, while Chris Billy is an experienced midfielder who has played the holding role in midfield to great effect this season. In attack, it is well known that the combination of Michael Bridges and Karl Hawley (left) has amassed a combined total of 37 goals this term. It marks a turnaround in the fortunes of Hawley who at the end of last season was struggling to earn a start in Simpson’s starting eleven.

Key Player
Michael Bridges. After an injury nightmare that threatened his career, Michael Bridges has started from the bottom again after not so long ago playing in Europe for Leeds United and commanding a transfer fee of £5 million. Bridges initially moved to his hometown club on loan in November, making it a permanent arrangement in January. After unsuccessful recent spells with Sunderland, Bolton, Newcastle and Bristol City, the 27-year-old has repaid the faith shown in him by Paul Simpson with 12 goals in 20 games for the Cumbrians. Hawley’s pace will certainly be a threat to Town but Bridges' technical ability and awareness will equally need to be kept in check by the Town side.

Recent Form

Currently 2nd in League Two.
LSwansea (FLT)(h)1-2
Currently 1st in League Two.

Top Scorers

Michael Reddy14
Gary Jones13

Team News


  • The Mariners are likely to be without utility player Gary Cohen. The ex-Scarborough man injured his knee in the win over Wrexham last weekend. Andy Parkinson replaced him that day and is likely to be in contention to do so again.

  • However, boss Russell Slade may decide to beef up his midfield by recalling Ciaran Toner on the right hand side or opting for Junior Mendes instead.

  • Curtis Woodhouse is still struggling with a hip injury. JP Kalala or Ciaran Toner stand by to replace the former Hull man should he not make it.
  • Boss Paul Simpson is almost certain to recall striker Michael Bridges after he had to sit out the Football League Trophy Final at the weekend due to being cup-tied. Striker Derek Holmes will make way for Bridges, who will of course partner Karl Hawley barring any last minute injuries.

  • Holmes has played for Carlisle in midfield though this season, and could still start there. Simpson will have to choose between Holmes and Adam Murray for this place.

  • Goalkeeper Kieren Westwood will be fit to face the Mariners despite a nasty head injury in the game in Cardiff on Sunday. The 21-year-old played most of the game with a bandage after a blow to the head early in the first half.
  • Probable Teams

    1Steve Mildenhall
    2John McDermott
    3Tom Newey
    12Rob Jones
    6Justin Whittle
    18Ciaran Toner
    32Curtis Woodhouse
    8Paul Bolland
    10Marc Goodfellow
    19Gary Jones
    9Michael Reddy
    20Kieren Westwood
    15Paul Arnison
    5Danny Livesey
    6Kevin Gray
    21Zigor Aranalde
    11Adam Murray
    4Chris Billy
    8Chris Lumsdon
    3Peter Murphy
    24Michael Bridges
    10Karl Hawley


    7JPK Kalala
    4Ben Futcher
    31Junior Mendes
    20Gary Croft
    11Andy Parkinson
    9Derek Holmes
    1Anthony Williams
    14Simon Grand
    16Glenn Murray
    18Simon Hackney

    Head to Head

    Town have the overall upper hand over Carlisle but the history books remain finely balanced when it comes to the Cumbrians hosting the Mariners. Town have won six, drawn six and lost six of their 18 meetings at Brunton Park. Their most recent win came in the 1997/98 season just days after winning in the Auto Windscreens Shield at Wembley. – That competition is now the Football League Trophy, which Carlisle played in last weekend.

    P 37 W 20 D 9 L 8 F 62 A 39

    Carlisle Head-to-Head (5th on The Opposition Ladder)

    Last Meeting

    Town met Carlisle early in January at Blundell Park only to lose 2-1. Ciaran Toner grabbed an early Town goal after 8 minutes until Zigor Aranalde grabbed a goal in each half to give Carlisle the win. Town bombarded the Cumbrians goal towards the end with Tom Newey missing a penalty, Nick Heggary hitting the bar and Martin Gritton missing a golden opportunity at the back post with a header. Kevin Gray was sent off for Carlisle for deliberate handball which led to the penalty that Newey smashed against the bar.

    Grimsby Team: Mildenhall, Bloomer, Robert Jones, Whittle, Newey, Cohen (Barwick, 66), Toner, Bolland, Parkinson, Reddy (Hegarty, 83), Gary Jones (Gritton, 66)
    Subs (not used): Downey, Kamudimba

    Carlisle Team: Westwood, Arnison, Livesey, Gray (sent off 78),Murphy, McGill (Grand, 80), Billy, Lumsdon, Aranalde, Holmes (Glenn Murray, 74), Hawley (Adam Murray, 89)
    Subs: (not used) Williams,Hackney

    Attendance: 5,882    Report


    It’s a massive game, with Brunton Park expected to be sold out. I’m going for a 1-1, with Town sneaking a late goal.


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    Notts Co2-11-01
    Reader's POMs


    Click on the link for directions to Brunton Park (left).


    Click on the link for pubs in the vacinity of Brunton Park.

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